We’ve all been in that awkward situation. The situation where we are faced with a friend who has just had received tragic news in one form or another. We listen to their tragic story, and then the dilemma arises…. What do we say? How do we react? What can we possibly do to make things better for them?
I was recently faced with this very same dilemma. A good friend shared with me that he had gotten fired from his job. This friend is a man who has a wife and 2 small children to provide for. This is a man who I respect and love greatly, a man who I would do anything to help in anyway I can.
So what is the first thing that comes to my mind? The same thing that comes to most Southern Christian minds’ when faced with a situation like this. I think about telling him, “This must be God’s will for your life. If He closes one door, He will always open another.” I think these thoughts among many other Christian clichés. Thankfully, I hold back from interrupting his heartfelt concerns with my words of “brilliance.” My lack of knowing what to say gave him the greatest gift of all - the gift of being heard.
As I drove away that afternoon I was reflecting on what I should have said, or how the conversation could have gone differently. Too often, we try to tell people going through hard times with what we think we are supposed to say. We rely on, “I’ll be praying for you,” when if we were honest with ourselves we would have to admit that we are likely to not even do that.
I found myself texting him that evening after his family had been on my heart that day. As I texted the words “let me know if there is anything I can do for you,” I was struck with a realization. Why should he have to ask me to do something for him? Why not just do something? In the midst of his family’s crisis, and what I can only imagine is one of the most humbling experiences for a husband, why should I force him to be humbled even further by asking me for help? Why can’t I just give him my help? After all, isn’t this what I would want him to do for me?
That evening my wife and I took his family a small treat after dinner. This was no strain on our budget or our time, nor was it a lifesaver for the family in need. But it did show them that there are people who love them and hopefully, even if only for a short time, brought some joy to their home.
These situations might be different for you. You may financially be in a position where you can pay your friend’s rent for a month until they get back on their feet. You may be able to let them borrow a car, or sleep on your couch. Or you may not be in a position to help them financially at all. And that’s ok. Most of the time all people need is a listening ear, a friend who they know is there for them during their storm. All they need is your shoulder to cry on. They need you to give them a loving embrace, and let them know that you care.
We are all faced with these situations. My challenge is this - don’t let flippantly chosen words fight the battle for you. Let your actions prevail. The next time you are faced with a friend going through a crisis, don’t tell them to let you know if there’s anything you can do - just do something.